Chicken Pot Pie

I'm quite proud of myself right now. I've managed to make something out of nothing. I really despise the thought of having to go out and buy ingredients for every, single thing that I make. Often, it feels like, I'm ready to go on a recipe and then discover that I'm out of something crucial. Today, the big issue was that I was out of almost everything. My Mother-in-law June had kid #1 and kid #2 all weekend. So, Derek and I belatedly celebrated our anniversary, I had a great yoga class and spent the remainder of a saturday shopping and noshing with my BFF KT!, it was great... but I didn't cook a thing. So, by Sunday afternoon we are hungry and getting desperate. I'm damned if I'm going to grab something quick again. So, I get the remains of the roasted chicken (which I use for sandwiches during the week) and some veggies that are laying around and well... find these pastry things in the freezer and voila!

It looks really fancy. If I hadn't had these pastry thingies in the freezer than I totally would have thrown together my own crust but why make things more complicated

AND it's nice to clear some more space in my freezer (which honestly isn't very full anyway!) - How full are you supposed to keep your freezer for maximum efficiency??? Another thing that I'm proud of myself for is that, although I didn't have any bouillion or chicken stock, I just used the stuff in the bottom of the roast pan as my stock and it was beautiful! Nice way to reduce the waste. Once again, my peeps, you could change this up - completely do away with the meat and replace with more veggies, use a fish (although I'm down on using fish right now) or other meat... you get the idea.

Chicken Pot Pies

1 pkg Puff Pastry or 2 pkg of Puff Pastry cups (that's what I used)

1/2 red onion, diced small
2 med/small carrots, sliced thinly
1 rib celery, sliced thinly
4 asparagus spears (I had it in the fridge!), cut in chunks
3 cloves garlic
3 cups of cooked chicken, cubed small
1/2 cup of flour
2 cups of milk
2 packets of chicken bouillion (low salt)
dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce, Pepper Sauce (all to taste)
2 tsp salt

cook Pastry cups to package directions - If you are using one large hunk of puff pastry then just hold off here.
In a large, heated dutch oven. Add some olive oil for sauteing. Add in the veggies and saute until soft. Add in the chicken and mix well. Add in the bouillion packets, sauces and salt. Then add the flour and mix well. Gradually add in the milk. If it gets too thick add in a little more milk to get to the desired consistency (I made mine quite thick). Check taste and adjust if needed.

Fill each pastry cup with chicken mixture and top with the little 'hat' that you had to cut out.
If you are using the hunk of puff pastry. Place the chicken mixture in a large baking dish and place the puff pastry on top (might want to place it over the edges of the dish) and bake to the package directions (probably 18 - 20 minutes).

Peanut Butter and BACON cookies... dedicated to Jesse.

I may be going out there a little too far for some of you... hell, I'm out there pretty far for myself! However, I must explain. Derek and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary at a wonderful spot here in Toronto called Trevor Kitchen and Bar. Our friend Jesse Vallins is the Chef de Cuisine and, despite all of our best efforts to be inconspicuous, He always discovers that we are there and treats us ridiculously well. We ended up getting multiple first courses and among our favourites was the heirloom tomato salad with bacon vinaigrette (BTW - Derek Never eats salad but he ate this one!) with a little breaded deep fried dill heaven and the BLT Consumme (Yes - you read that right) as for our other choices (Oh like the truffle and reggiano drizzled poutine! and my gorgeously rare lamb) we were also thrilled... Oh and the glass of sparkling Spanish helped the mood as well. Jesse really... you outdid yourself!

So inspired by the bacon craziness of late I decided to get on with making this recipe that I've been toying with for a while. I first saw the idea on Joy the Baker's website and did some tweaking of my own and came up with this little cookie. Part peanut butter cookie, part bacon breakfast and ALLLLL decadent! Delish! I may be out there but at least it tastes good to be here.

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies.
(Adapted from Joy the Baker)
Makes a boat load!

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter at room temp.
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (I used all natural crunchy - another great use for my chopstick collection)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 lg eggs

8 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp and broken into small, crunchy pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degress F. Prepare a cookie pan with a silicon baking sheet or parchment paper.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth and well combined. Add in the sugar and beat until fluffy - about 4 minutes or so. Add in the eggs and combine well.
Add the flour into the mixture and mix until well combined.

Sprinkle in the bacon pieces and mix well. Place tablespoons full on prepared baking sheet and press down with a fork. Bake for about 11 minutes.

How Far can I stretch? ... Sausage that is.

Ok, so I'm trying to be thrifty but I'm not really trying to be thrifty. I'm just experimenting really. Since we are all (well, most of us) trying to cut down on our meat intake just a little bit, I bought five hot italian sausages and I want to see how much I can do with them.
First on my list, Risotto. Since my lemon Risotto discovery on Valentine's Day I have made risotto part of my regular repertoire. It took me a long time to get onto it but now that I've kind of got it, I can't believe that it took me so long to catch the bug. Delicious just about any way... and there are tons of ways. I'm trying to think of something that would just not work if you threw it into risotto but I'm having trouble thinking of what that would be. Thoughts???

Also, the food box came today and with it arrived a huge bunch of huge asparagus and some yummy looking mushrooms - let's throw 'em in. I figure, the more crap in the risotto, the further it will go, right? (Also, in the food box was some yummy cheese and some super yummy Cocoa Camino chocolate... oh and some awesome Ace bakery multigrain bread! It was a great food box... SEE...

So, with 4 cups of heated chicken broth, 2 cups of risotto, 2 hot italian sausages and some veggies... here's what I did:

Risotto with Asparagus, Mushrooms and Sausage
(serves 4)

4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, heated

2 cups of Arborio rice
5 large stalks of asparagus
1/2 a red onion, diced small
3 cups of mushrooms (I used button) sliced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 hot italian sausage, sliced thin
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once heated add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter is melted add in the veggies and saute in the oil and butter until the onion is just clear (doesn't have to be limp though). Turn down the heat if necessary. Add in the arborio rice and coat with oil and butter (add a little more butter if you need to). Slowly begin to add ladle's full of heated broth, being careful not to add so much at one time that the mixture stops simmering. Continue stirring regularly and adding ladles of broth as needed.
Once the rice is done (takes about 15 - 20 minutes) remove from the heat and add the sausage, parmesan and cream. Check for taste.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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